What’s the most expensive movie ever made? We will answer that question shortly, but before we do that, let’s dig deep into the reasons why so much money is being spent to make movies. Movies are possibly the most expensive art form. And over the last few decades, it has become more business and less art — especially after George Lucas made Star Wars and changed the commerce of cinema forever. Studios realized the money-making potential of movies and they started investing more and more money. Franchises started springing up, sequels started getting made, superheroes came into the picture. The whole world of cinema radically started getting driven by commerce instead of art. And today, the condition is such that one has to wait for the second half of the year to see genuinely good dramas.
At the end of the day, money is not a bad thing. Who knows, if studios hadn’t made so much money, the technology behind movie-making would not have seen such humongous improvements. There are two sides to every coin, I guess. Whichever side of the argument you are on, this article is going to interest you. What are the most expensive movies in the history of cinema? Well, it is not an easy question to answer. Why? Because studios hardly ever reveal the true details about the production budget. On top of that, inflation and other external factors make it nearly impossible to estimate the true cost behind making a film. Nevertheless, we’ve come up with a list after devoting a lot of time to research. Here’s the list of the most expensive movies ever made:
22. The Lone Ranger (2013) – $225M
This 2013 film is the cinematic adaptation of the very famous radio and television series of the same. Here, Armie Hammer plays the titular character, the crime-fighter called The Lone Ranger, while Johnny Depp portrays the role of the film’s narrator and his sidekick, Tonto. Great attention to detail is one of the best things about this movie. Its elaborate set designs, location shoots, and marketing ended up digging a hole of $225 million in the producers’ pockets.
21. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (2006) – $225M
Another Johnny Depp-starrer, ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest‘ is the second installment of the PoC film series. In this film, we find Captain Jack Sparrow, Will Turner, and Elizabeth Swann, all looking for the heart of Davy Jones, a mythical pirate. But each of them has his/her motives behind the search. This is a period film which is full of action and adventure. There are exotic locations, massive use of CGI, and multiple Hollywood A-listers in the cast. Naturally, the film ended up costing $225 million.
20. The Dark Knight Rises (2012) – $230M
The final installment of Christopher Nolan‘s Batman trilogy had to be the perfect superhero film. The previous two installments of the franchise had set a standard of excellence which ‘The Dark Knight Rises‘ had to live up to, and boy did it succeed! The film had stars like Tom Hardy and Anne Hathaway joining Christian Bale and Michael Caine in the cast. Shot across several countries and using numerous locations and extensive CGI, it took nearly $230 million to complete the project.
19. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (2017) – $230M
The fifth installment of the PoC franchise, ‘Dead Men Tell No Tales’ has our favorite Javier Bardem facing off against Depp as his old rival, Captain Salazar. The film took the franchise to another level with the amount of detailing that has been put in every single scene. And naturally, with such big stars, one would need around $230 million to make this film ready for the screens.
18. The Fate of The Furious (2017) – $230M
The eighth installment of ‘The Fast And The Furious‘ film series saw the addition of Charlize Theron and Kurt Russell to the already star-heavy cast of the franchise. This film centers around a time when Dom has been roped into terrorism by a criminal mastermind, but his crew are there to protect him in case things go out of hand. The insane action sequences we see in this film contribute significantly to its enormous budget of $230 million.
17. Avatar (2009) – $237M
James Cameron has always pushed the boundaries of filmmaking in mainstream cinema. He is the one who brought to us ‘Titanic‘ and in 2009, he again outdid himself with the epic science fiction film ‘Avatar‘. This movie tells a story of humans invading the moon of a far off planet to obtain a rare metal. Creation of an entirely new world with the help of graphics, an unbelievably large-scale shoot, thousands of actors, and intricate set designs ended up costing the film $237 million.
16. Spectre (2015) – $245M
2015’s installment of the James Bond franchise is surely the most lavish Bond film till date. The first scene, where Bond goes on a mission on the Mexican Day Of The Dead itself probably cost the producers more than many independent films’ budgets. The film also saw a rather impressive starcast consisting of Christoph Waltz, Andrew Scott, Monica Bellucci, Naomie Harris, Dave Bautista and others joining Daniel Craig. The most impressive aspect of the film is that in all its excess, it never loses the old-world charm we associate with Bond. ‘Spectre’s production budget went up to around $245 million.
15. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009) – $250 million
The Harry Potter universe is something a generation of fans simply can’t get enough of. Be it the stories about Potter himself or about the history of Hogwarts and some of its legendary witches and wizards – the fans are ready to gulp down anything author J.K. Rowling throws at them. By the time the series got to the sixth installment of the films, this franchise had already become iconic. Thus, the makers did not hesitate to spend a sum of $250 million on its production, knowing that there are enough fans out there for them to break even at no time.
14. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014) – $250M
After the critical and commercial success of the first three LOTR films, director Peter Jackson decided that he will be filming the prequel stories, or the ‘Hobbit’ series of films as well. When he finally gave shape to his dreams, the world could not help but wonder at the marvel the ‘Hobbit’ films eventually became. The creation of the entirely new world of course required the producers to shell out some major bucks, with the production cost of this particular film running up to $250 million.
13. Batman vs Superman: Dawn Of Justice (2016) – $250M
‘Batman vs Superman: Dawn Of Justice’ was one of the most highly-anticipated superhero films before its release. Fans could not wait for the first time the two iconic DC characters would come together in a live-action film. Moreover, this was also the first film where Gal Gadot appeared as Wonder Woman. DC took the franchise to a completely new zone with its dark and gloomy atmosphere. The elaborate action sequences, shoots in various locations all over the world, and other factors took the film’s production budget to around $250 million.
12. Captain America: Civil War (2016) – $250M
The third installment in the ‘Captain America‘ film series turned out to be more of a story of infighting between the Avengers than them actually getting together to solve problems that plague the world. This film saw most of the major players in the final Avengers films come together either in support of Iron Man or Captain America. The magnitude of the film naturally demands a budget like $250 million, which Disney had to shell out for the project.
11. Spider-Man 3 (2007) – $258M
This is the last film where we see Toby Maguire don the role of our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. In this film, Spidey has to face two challenges and come out stronger. Firstly, he has to deal with a dangerous alien substance (Venom), which latches on to Spider-Man and turns him into an evil being. And secondly, he also has to fight against Sandman who is out there to destroy New York City. Shot with elaborate detail, the film ended up costing an unbelievable $258 million.
10. Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)- $258.6M
The ‘Star Wars’ films have always been among the hot favorites of science fiction lovers all over the world. The franchise’s 2015 venture, ‘The Force Awakens’, finds Finn, Rey, and Poe protecting the under-attack New Republic They are also looking for Luke Skywalker, the last surviving Jedi warrior. Being a space opera, the film required extensive sets, a large number of extras, and hundreds of people working behind the scenes. With all of this together, the film cost a total of $258.6 million.
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9. Tangled (2010) – $260M
The most expensive animated film of all time, ‘Tangled‘ spent six years in production before it could be released to the public. The movie is a milestone in Disney‘s repertoire, being their 50th animated film to be released. The animation used in this film is a fine blend between CGI and traditional animation, which gives the film a look, unlike anything we have ever seen before. The film is loosely based on the famous fairytale ‘Rapunzel’, but its name was changed to appeal to both boys and girls. The movie’s production cost an unbelievable $260 million.
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8. John Carter (2012) – $264M
This 2012 film about the renowned fictional civil war veteran, John Carter documents his first adventure to the planet Mars and depicts how he prevents civil unrest from spreading throughout the Red Planet. The film was stuck in developmental hell for a long time before it finally saw the light of the day. ‘John Carter’ was made on a budget of a whopping $264 million.
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7. Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)- $275M
This film tells the story of a young Han Solo who plans to confront a gambler called Lance Calrissian with the help of his friend Chewbacca. Alden Ehrenreich plays the character of Solo in this film with other important roles going to actors like Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke, Donald Glover, Thandie Newton, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Joonas Suotamo, and Paul Bettany. The total budget of the film went up to $275 million after the hugely elaborate production.
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6. Justice League (2017) – $300M
Comic book fans were eagerly waiting for a long time to see a live-action Justice League movie hit the screens. Finally, in 2017, all of their dreams came true when DC brought out the film with the characters Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Cyborg, The Flash, and Aquaman. The film has some impressive action sequences and huge sets. It took up almost $300 million to get the film ready.
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5. Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End (2007) – $300M
The third film in the PoC series, ‘At World’s End’ follows the characters Captain Barbossa, Will Turner, and Elizabeth Swann as they help Captain Jack Sparrow and form an alliance to battle the evil East India Company. The film cost Disney a whopping $300 million.
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4. Avengers: Infinity War (2018) – $316M
The second-last film of the ‘Avengers’ series, ‘Infinity War‘, is one of the biggest movies ever made in terms of scale. The final fight sequence will remain etched in the memories of film fans for a long time. The film has taken an unbelievable $316 million to complete production.
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3. Avengers: Endgame (2019) – $356M
‘Avengers: Endgame‘ was a watershed moment in cinema history. One of the most popular film series of recent times was coming to an end and every fan of comic book films flocked to the theatres to watch their favorite Avengers together in action for the last time. The highest-grossing film of all time is also among the most expensive films ever made, with its budget going up as high as $356 million.
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2. Avengers: Age Of Ultron (2015) – $365M
Immediately after the release of ‘The Avengers’, MCU realized that in order to capitalize on the success of the film, they would need to come out with an equally brilliant sequel to the same. When it came to ‘Avengers: Age Of Ultron’, the makers did not leave any stone unturned and shelled out a whopping $365 million.
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1. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011) – $379M
‘Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides’ is the fourth film in the PoC series and follows Captain Jack Sparrow on his search for the fountain of youth. However, this is a phenomenon many people have been eyeing for centuries. On his quest to discover this magical fountain, Sparrow comes across challenges from many of these people who are interested to drink from the fountain. The costliest film of all time, ‘On Stranger Tides’ took a total of $379 million to be made.
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